Latest: Lotus
Did You Miss This? Captive Moons

Post #300

with my Best Beloved on the Sacramento RiverDecember 8th, 2016, if I’ve done this right, my 300th post will go live here at my fiction site.

That would be today. And this would be the post.

I wrote my first blog post in 2002, fourteen years ago. I’ve written a few thousand posts at various blogs. I’ve written 9 nonfiction books, 6 fiction books, and more than 100 songs.

Writers sometimes forget to stop and celebrate just getting stuff done.

Four years of posting, mostly about my writing, while also maintaining my indie publishing website.

I feel pretty good about my writing these days.

I hope y’all feel the same.


How Long Does It Take to Write 1,000 Words?

stopwatchThat search shows up here more frequently than any other except searches for my name.

Here are a few answers:

  1. At a typing speed of 25WPM, about average for a nonprofessional,
    1,000 ÷ 25 = 40 minutes
    At a more professional speed of 50WPM, it’s 20 minutes. If you’re my wife and type 80WPM it’s less than 13 minutes. This is the least meaningful answer I have.
  2. My scenes tend to run about 1,000 words. Most writers manage 2,000 per scene, but I’ve tried adjusting my stance and leaning toward the plate, and I’m still not hitting it, so I do what I do. One scene, about 1,000 words, takes me about an hour, because although I type 50WPM I also pause sometimes to ruminate on the next bit. Sometimes I can blaze away for 90 minutes nonstop, but that’s the exception. The rule is, about an hour for a 1,000-word scene.
  3. The writer who pauses to fix every typo, polish every sentence, adjust the punctuation, and carefully balance sentence lengths, paragraph lengths, and whatever else they balance, all the while keeping one eye on the word count meter, will take a week. Or a day. Or a month. Or forever. I don’t know. At this point, it’s the wrong question.
  4. How long does it take to write 1,000 good words? Still the wrong question.
  5. How long does it take to write a 1,000-word story? Good question. I write what I call 1-Page Classics. I shoot for 1,000 words. They take me about 3 hours, start to finish, idea to polished prose.
  6. Now we’re talking about storytelling, real writing, and not word count. How long does it take to write 1,000 words of good story, in addition to all the words you already have? It depends on whether you’re in the flow, brain dumping a scene you envisioned en tableau, and spend half an hour, or grinding your way through a vital slice that weighs heavily on your emotions, dredging up doubt and anguish from past pains and future fears. That might take all day, all week, even.
  7. What if you haven’t even started yet? Your first 1,000 words might flow like mad, at nearly typing speed (20 to 40 minutes.) If you spent some time planning, or if an idea gripped you and won’t let go till you spill, that’s feasible. Otherwise, if something doesn’t feel right, either because you didn’t stop to celebrate finishing a novel yesterday, don’t have an idea what this one is about, or need to get paid so it doesn’t matter, you just need to get the blasted thing written, we’re back to hours, maybe days.
  8. One last answer: sit down at your computer, start a timer, and write until the word count meter says 1,000. Check the timer. There’s your answer. Not the dumbest answer, but perhaps the least satisfying.

How long does it take you to write 1,000 words?


400

400Post #400.

That’s 400 articles.

144,849 words about writing, indie publishing, and commonsense zero-cost DIY marketing for authors.

Thanks for showing up every week and reading them.

By a wide margin, the most popular post yet has been a list of a bunch of other posts. Seems y’all like things packaged neatly, and I respect that.

What else do you like? What’s been missing? What would make this place so valuable you’d stand in line to pay for my help?


Learn to Love Marketing, or Give Your Books Away (or Both)

left, right, or middle?Almost every author I talk to wishes someone else would sell their books for them. The few exceptions are those who, by nature or training, enjoy marketing their books. They’ve learned enough to have a plan and to execute it consistently, persistently.

Even my wife‘s clients, who pay her large sums for social media marketing for their books, engage fully in the process. Those who don’t quickly become frustrated because she isn’t selling their books well enough, not realizing that’s not how it works (despite having that clearly explained at the outset.)

Here’s the good news: if you hate marketing and you don’t want to sell your books, you don’t have to spend another second on marketing.

Continue reading “Learn to Love Marketing, or Give Your Books Away (or Both)”


Can’t Hurry Love. Or Marketing.

like a caravan climbing a mountainSince I started the focused marketing of A Long, Hard Look, giving away copies in exchange for reviews and to get attention on Goodreads, the total results (over a the past 5 weeks) have been underwhelming. A handful (that means 5, at most) of sales, a few of which were to people I know. A few reviews, mostly from people who read my blog or newsletter.

Like I said, underwhelming. (Not that I don’t appreciate that folks who know me buy, read, and review, but that isn’t a result of all this marketing, it’s a result of our personal relationship.)

There are a million sales tactics, and hundreds of people out there pitching their “sell a million copies” process. If only I could find the magic potion, the secret formula.

Thing is, I already have it, and it’s no secret, nor is it magic.

Continue reading “Can’t Hurry Love. Or Marketing.”


The Endless Drip Drip Drip

drip, drip, dripWelcome to the first official Marketing Monday post. Yeah, I’m gonna give it a shot.

It’s human nature to go for big wins. It’s good science to go for the power of small wins.

Most progress occurs incrementally, not exponentially. (Real change, on the other hand, vice versa.)

Are you looking for ways to make a big splash with your marketing? Looking to sell hundreds of copies the day you launch? Continue reading “The Endless Drip Drip Drip”


Taking a Break Without Breaking Momentum

sea the pauseAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It can make writers collapse in a gibbering heap in the corner, which might also be dull.

Yesterday I was telling you to keep your momentum. Today I’m telling you to take a break. Coping with conflict is part of the writer’s life. Here’s my perspective on how to balance these opposing needs.

Continue reading “Taking a Break Without Breaking Momentum”


After the Storm There’s No Time to Relax

To stretch that anchor/storm metaphor:

After the storm has passed the crew can’t take a break. First order is damage assessment and vital repairs.

Once the fires are put out, literally or metaphorically, the ship still needs sailing. A myriad little things need tidying up.

If the crew takes it easy after the storm they condemn their ship.

Continue reading “After the Storm There’s No Time to Relax”


Marketing Strategy: No Budget? No Time? The One Thing I Would Do Is . . .

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1379787 by Jan Willem Geertsma http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jan-willem. . . blog.

If I had to choose one marketing strategy to fit into an incredibly busy life and didn’t cost a penny, it would be my blog.

This blog automatically feeds every post to Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. As soon as I sort the technical details, it will automatically post to Google+ and Pinterest.

(Update #1: Continue reading “Marketing Strategy: No Budget? No Time? The One Thing I Would Do Is . . .”


Timer (#3 of 6 Tools to Write)

#3 in a series of 6

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/429177 by scott craig http://www.cancerbox.com/Being passionate souls, writers have a tendency to over promise, over commit and just plain try too hard.

When facing a challenging task, it’s human nature to try to swallow the elephant in one gulp. Every “getting things done” specialist in the world tells us that’s wrong — and yet we persist. If you want a jump start on eating the elephant, start with one tiny bite.

If you’re 12 years behind on your book, it’s easy to assume that it will take four hours a day for the next 10 years to catch up. And what happens is you spend four hours a day worrying about writing and zero hours a day doing it. If you missed yesterday’s post on habits and rituals, go back and read it. Then we’ll talk about why a 5-minute timer is such a great habit-building tool.

This all-or-nothing perspective makes habit-building a real challenge. Continue reading “Timer (#3 of 6 Tools to Write)”


5 Ways to Provide the Fresh Blog Content Your Fans Crave

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/15900 by Andras Deak http://www.sxc.hu/profile/deanWe’ve all seen a teenager open the refrigerator for the thirteenth time hoping miraculously that a pizza has appeared where only broccoli lay before.

There’s a marvelous scene in one of the Crocodile Dundee movies where someone points out that his hotel room has a television. He turns it on saying, “I’ve seen television before.” As the I Love Lucy theme fades in he says, “Yup, that’s what was on”.

Can you imagine if the food in the fridge really never changed or if the show on television was actually always the same?

There are some activities in life which hinge on variety, newness, change, to keep our attention. Eating the same foods over and over again gets boring fast – even pizza.

The single greatest reason for potential fans (which means potential purchasers of your book) to visit your website is to find something new.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Provide the Fresh Blog Content Your Fans Crave”


Building the Writing Habit

image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/962000 by vassiliki koutsothanasi http://vassilikimytara.wix.com/graphic-designerBoth Tchaikovsky and Somerset Maugham are credited with saying “I write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at 9:00 when I sit down at my desk.”

There’s an excellent book by Dr. Richard Wiseman, The As If Principle. Research shows that when we behave as if we believe something, we begin to believe it. When we behave as if we have a quality, we develop it.

Set a schedule you can keep, and keep it. It’s the single strongest way to build the writing habit.

Now, what most people do is go off and plan to write 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. That lasts about 4 minutes.
Continue reading “Building the Writing Habit”


Why Authors Must Have a Blog

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1413339 by Melissa Anthony http://pixelcookies.is-great.net/I’ve been a web developer for almost 25 years, so this is not simply from the perspective of an author, though I have published 18 books so far and show no signs of stopping.

An author without a website and blog is like any other business without a website.

The first place people go for information these days is the web. If you’re considering a new mechanic, and this one has a good website and the other has nothing, don’t you lean toward the one you can find out about online?
Continue reading “Why Authors Must Have a Blog”


Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1126065 by BarbaraDin http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BarbaraDinA longer diatribe about marketing your self-published book. This is a year-long class, which I’d be glad to give if y’all are interested.

Publishing is in the greatest upheaval since Gutenberg. Supporters of traditional publishing will tell you it’s the only choice, or you’re not a real author.

I’ll take the opposing view: the only rational choice, from both the artistic and commercial perspectives, is to pick yourself, own the process, and reap the rewards. Here’s why:
Continue reading “Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing”


Book Marketing: The Long Game Wins

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1284433 by Fred Fokkelman http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ChemtecAuthors who learn to love marketing will win in the long run. Marketing can feel like a slog through wet clay —wet clay flowing downhill, taking you with it. No matter what you do, how much time you spend in a million different social networks, nothing happens.

The solution is to play the long game. Persistence, not volume or brightness.
Continue reading “Book Marketing: The Long Game Wins”